Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA (BBVA), Spain’s second-largest bank by market value, yesterday upgraded its Taipei office into a branch, with a view to helping local firms deepen their presence in Latin America, BBVA chairman Francisco Gonzalez said yesterday.
The Spanish banker said the eurozone is heading in the right direction based on developments the past week and BBVA has enough funds to withstand the financial turmoil.
“With a focus on investment banking and global markets business, the new branch is designed to meet the needs of Taiwan’s large multinational corporations and institutional investors, especially those with interests in Latin America,” Gonzalez told a media briefing in Taipei.
BBVA Taiwan aims to position itself as a provider of structured finance, commercial lending, syndicated loans, corporate finance and capital markets in foreign markets where local lenders do not have operations, such as Latin America, Spain, Portugal and parts of the US, Gonzales said.
The Spanish banking group, which employs 111,306 workers in 7,466 branches in 33 countries, is the largest financial institution in Mexico and has leading franchises in South America and the US Sunbelt, Gonzalez said.
It currently has a modest operation in Taiwan, with a staff of 15 at its office at Taipei 101 in Xinyi District (信義), Taipei branch general manager Philip Li (李志明) said.
BBVA, which recently sold its Puerto Rico operations for US$500 million in cash, is in the process of divesting more distressed assets, but is not in a hurry, Gonzalez said.
The assets BBVA is trying to sell include a mixture of repossessed real estate and non-performing loans.
“We are not in a hurry and we are waiting for better bids ... Those bids were really low a year ago, but are now going up,” he said.
Furthermore, BBVA has no intention of ending its strategic partnership with China’s CITIC Bank (中國中信銀行), Gonzalez said.
BBVA set up a representative office in 2006 and is the first European bank to open a branch in Taipei in the past six years.